Boiseans go big for Small Business Saturday shopping

Buskers, including a.k.a. Belle, perform outside the Record Exchange in honor of Small Business Saturday on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014.
Buskers, including a.k.a. Belle, perform outside the Record Exchange in honor of Small Business Saturday on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Idaho Statesman

Rediscovered Books in Boise almost needed a traffic light to handle all the customers browsing the shelves Saturday afternoon, said Bruce Delaney, the shop's co-owner.

But he's not complaining. The more the merrier on Small Business Saturday, he said.

Small Business Saturday started four years ago, created by American Express as a themed shopping day to complement Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales dominated by large retailers and chains. The credit card company still sponsors the campaign.

Though it has corporate roots, independent local retailers in Boise have embraced the idea of a shop-local extravaganza. Rediscovered Books and the Downtown Boise Association worked together this year to unify Downtown Boise businesses around the idea.

Rediscovered Books brought in local writers to spend a few hours as "booksellers," greeting their fans and chatting with shoppers.

Boise author Christian Winn hung out in the store Saturday afternoon. Copies of his book "Naked Me" sold out so fast that Winn had to bike home to get more.

Down the street, The Record Exchange had musicians outside playing most of the day.

Black Friday is a bigger day for sales at The Record Exchange, said Chad Dryden, marketing and promotions director for the music store and gift shop. About 40 people were in line at the door Friday morning, and sales were 17 percent higher than on last year's Black Friday, he said.

Saturday sales were strong, too. Holiday shoppers browsed every corner of the gift shop. Vinyl aficionados flipped through albums in every aisle of the record section.

"The last two years, we've seen a very big uptick in sales," Dryden said.

More people simply want to support local shops, he said. And this year's "group marketing approach" by the Downtown Boise Association for Small Business Saturday was a key part of ensuring that Boise retailers get exposure this weekend, he said.

"Independent businesses sometimes can get into a bit of thinking (they're on) an island by themselves," he said.

The effort to keep local shops in the forefront during holiday shopping season popped up in other parts of Idaho as well.

Gina Taruscio, executive director of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News that many Moscow businesses take part. "It's a great opportunity to showcase what they are about," Taruscio said.

Moscow Wild at Art co-owner Mark McLaughlin said the event is "a great way to kick off the holidays."

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey